The Book of Revelation in the Lectionary

Our Wednesday Night CCM Scripture Study (Wednesdays, 7:30pm) is on The Book of Revelation, which is a rare text to be a part of the Lectionary for the Mass. But it is read under some circumstances and here are some of the notable moments and feasts when that happens.

The Chrism Mass on Thursday of Holy Week
Revelation 1:5-8 is the second reading at this Mass at which the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens and consecrates the Chrism. The reading is likely included at this mass—which is to be “a manifestation of the Priests’ communion with their Bishop” and at which the Bishop is urged to make his homily “about priestly anointing”—is likely included because it lauds Christ “who has made us into a Kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”

It is the second reading for the Sundays of Easter, Year C, and in Year II it is the “Epistle”/First Reading for the weekday masses of the Thirty-Third and Thirty-Fourth Weeks of Ordinary time.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aug 15)
At the Mass During the Day, the first reading is Revelation 11:9a; 12:1-6a, 10ab, John’s vision of the “woman clothed with the son” that Catholics have typically associated with Mary and The Church (because images/symbols in Revelation are always multivalent). With the juxtaposition of v. 11:19, the pericope strongly connects “the ark of his covenant” which appears in heaven with the woman. This reading is also an option in the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary during Easter.

St Bartholomew, Apostle (August 24)
Rev 21:9b-14 describes the city Jerusalem descending from heaven whose foundation is made up of twelve “courses of stones” on which are inscribed “the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb” of which, Bartholomew was. This brings up the interesting point that if you count up everyone whom the Church names “apostle” you get more than Twelve (Judas, whom we’re not counting, was replaced by Matthias then you have at least Paul and Bartholomew bringing named “apostles” to 14).

Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels (Sept 29)
Rev 12:7-12ab is the 2nd option for the First reading of this feast. Within the story of the woman clothed with the sun (see above), occurs the confrontation between the archangel Michael and the dragon. At the conclusion of this battle the ancient serpent and its angels are thrown down to earth. Notably, Michael is not specifically mentioned as the actor here, and even if he was the glory is given to Jesus, for it is sung “they conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb”.

Solemnity of All Saints (Nov 1)
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 is the first reading of the Solemnity. This pericope includes the vision of the “one hundred and forty-four thousand” of the children of Israel and the “great multitude” from every nation, race, people and tongue who worship God before the throne—of vision of the uncountable array of saints in Heaven.

Some other times when Revelation is read
A lot of the following are only options during Easter. Easter is the preeminent season for the Book of Revelation.

  • COMMONS – On the Anniversary of the Dedication during the season of Easter Rev 21:1-5a (God will wipe every tear from their eyes) OR 21:9-14 (I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.) are options
  • Common of the BVM during Easter can use the A woman clothed with the sun … reading from the Assumption or God will wipe every tear … from above.
  • For the Common of Martyrs during Easter readings from Rev 7, Rev 12 and Rev 21 are options
  • Common of Virgins & Holy Men and Women during Easter: Rev 19:1, 5-9a; Rev 21:1-5a (REv 3:14b, 20-22 is another option for Holy M&W)
  • RITUAL MASSES – In the Ritual Mass for the Celebration of Marriage Rev 19:1, 5-9a is an option
  • At the Dedication of a Church and Altar, Rev 8:3-4 is an optional reading
  • At Masses for the Dead Rev 20:11-21:1 and Rev 21:1-5a, 6b-7 may be used during Easter

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A ministry of the Diocese of Charlotte, serving the Catholic communities at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Mars Hill University, Warren Wilson College, and UNC-Asheville.